This Valentine’s Day I married my white knight. When we started posting on social media, our friends and distant family were shocked. You see…no one knew this was coming…especially THE GROOM!
This blog tells our story.
Wrecker and I have been together for almost five years now. Both of us came from some pretty shitty romantic circumstances and were ripe for emotional attachment. This was the first relationship I had that started with complete brutal honesty and a well-developed friendship. He knew early on marriage was in our future, and he has been asking me for the last 4 years to become his wife. I was a bit more skeptical about love, having been burnt so many times before, and I kept signing him to 2-year contracts with an option to walk away if we found it was no longer working for us. (See. Brutal honesty.)
But around October of last year, I came around. I realized that our partnership was for keeps. He makes me a better person and complements me in so many ways that I would be dumb not to grab on to him and hold on tight. It came to me in an epiphany that I had THE perfect opportunity to pull off the most rarest of occasions: a SURPRISE wedding. I mean how many people have the opportunity to do that???
…And he would never suspect it happening on Valentine’s Day given my tenuous relationship with all things love.
To set up the scenario, I had asked him in early January to take Valentine’s Day off of work because I had big date night V-day plans, and he would get info on a need-to-know basis. (I have pulled off many a surprise in the past, so this was not out of the ordinary as far as he was concerned.)
The first and most important thing I needed to address was the license, so in early January I started suggesting a late February elopement. (You see this is marriage #3 for both of us, so formality was already out the window.) And as he struggled with the idea of leaving our parents and children out, I already knew the plan was to include them all.
Throughout January, I was compiling all the things that make a wedding a wedding. I found the dress, made the bouquet, located the perfect decorations, bought baking supplies, and planned out the timeline to each detail. I created a Private Facebook event where I was feeding information to our clan.
I was also strategically feigning concern over the details of our supposed Feb. 25th elopement, but asked him if we could put off thinking about it until after his Feb. 14th date night surprise. Make no mistake here, I deserve this year’s Oscar.
Before I knew it, Valentine’s Day had arrived, and here is how it all unfolded.
Early on Valentine’s Day, we headed out to get our marriage license. We were the second couple that day. Yay, love.
So by 10 A.M., legal paperwork in hand, I wanted to avert any suspicion of evening plans, and we grabbed a romantic breakfast at our favorite chain, First Watch. After breakfast, we stopped to get him a fresh haircut and to exchange our outdated Time Warner modem for something more this century. (As he sat giddily telling the hairdresser about the mystery evening, I bore my eyes intently into my phone and tried to keep from smiling and blowing the entire plan. If only she had known…)
In fact, the entire morning I had to keep reminding myself to breathe. You may not be able to tell from this pic, but my insides were quaking, and I feared any slight slip-up that would ruin the surprise.
After our errands, we returned home where my parents were supposed to call with a distraction (i.e., a favor) in the late afternoon.
Around 2 P.M., my mom asks me to call her via text. (Remember, she is supposed to call us.) She wants to know if they are supposed to call at 3 or if they are supposed to keep him distracted until 3. (Oh, moms…lol)
The plan she says is to say that dad “may” need help cutting a limb down out of the tree, and that they would call him to come help. Minutes go by. More minutes go by, and no call back to his phone. I’m getting antsy.
“Maybe you should call Mom and see if Dad needs help,” I suggest. “I’m a little worried he may hurt himself. Mom didn’t sound too good.”
He calls, and Mom confirms they need him. “We’ll be right there,” he says before hanging up.
I lower my eyes. “Well actually…I forgot something for our date tonight and need to make a run to the store before I start getting ready. You got this?” I look up as straight-faced as I can muster.
“Sure. Trying to get rid of me,” he says as he leaves. Am I busted??? I panic, but realize I have no time. I have a wedding to throw.
I wake the youngest (my cohort in this shenanigan) as she worked the night shift. “IT’S GO TIME!!!” I shout. “WE HAVE A WEDDING TO THROW!”
As she gets ready, I run to the basement refrigerator where the cake and cupcakes I baked just days before were ready for transport.
I run to the second floor for the helium tank and our clothing for the ceremony and Day After.
The rest is in the car and has been all day. He had no clue as we drove to get the license and ran about our errands.
After the car is packed, I return to the Master bedroom where I lay out his attire for the evening along with a few clue cards I had prepped the day before.
I slip Clue #2 into his pant’s pocket.
By the way, I love you for who you are and who you will become.
Today is a trail of clues. Feel free to take pictures along the way and share them with our friends. The end of the trail is where it all begins.
I place his pants inside his jacket, arrange the rest of his attire and place Clue #1 on top.
You know how I love a good surprise. Now take your time, get ready to shine, and meet me at Hueston Woods Lodge at 6:30 P.M. sharp.
NO SOONER, NO LATER.
Check in at the front desk.
Meanwhile…out at Hueston Woods Lodge…
Two girls were having a quick celebratory drink,
at an impromptu Bachelorette party.
Then, while she practiced the song I asked her to play for our ceremony, I was decorating the Honeymoon Suite for the anticipated “consummation.” (wink wink)
Soon after the room was set up, I began to dress while the photographer friend of the family we know, Thomissia Robinson, snapped some of these great setting-inspired shots.
As the sun set on the evening,
My crew of accomplices (a.k.a., our families) began to arrive.
The Fireside Room needed very little decoration with the wide open view of lake and the large fireplace that was already lit and setting the evening’s mood.
We just added a little fireside decoration,
some last minute touches,
And the scene was set.
To a table on the side of the room, we welcomed guests and displayed the cupcakes and champagne for post-ceremony celebration.
On two of the chairs, we framed pictures of those not able to be with us. My biological father is on the left, and his father is on the right.
As the rest of the families arrived, there was nothing to do but wait…
And, hey– you guessed it…
You see we were waiting for him to arrive, check in at that front desk and receive this last clue, which read:
So they welcomed you in, but you now must descend down the spiral staircase behind you.
Come meet me at FOREVER.
Every movement at the top of stairs caused my heart to leap.
And then finally…
What’s that in his hand you ask? My Valentine’s Day card he was going to give me over dinner.
“No, you didn’t.” was all he kept repeating.
(The card was beautiful by the way.)
After some boutonnièrage
(As a side note: I must confess that I had to call in for backup on this one. I was shaking from nervous energy and my fingers won’t do what I wanted them to. Thanks to my bro for coming in for the save.)
and a quick kiss,
I walked him around to where our families were ready to greet him. This even included a surprise for us both as his oldest daughter had flown his son in, who resides in Florida, for the ceremony.
My youngest daughter opened it with an acoustic version of Meghan Trainor’s “Like I’m Going to Lose You,” and we were wed by our officiant, B.J. Stahl. For those of you lucky enough to know her…well, how lucky are we??? Ironically, she is also my ex mother-in-law and remains still one of my closest friends.
She greeted us all with a beautiful and meaningful opening statement. We exchanged our vows (which involved cardboard boxes and a zombie apocalypse), placed rings upon one another’s hands,
his youngest daughter read the poem, “Love” by Roy Croft, where I clearly lost it,
and oh yeah, you remember that 2-year contract that kept being renewed??
We tore that sucker up!
A first kiss as husband and wife,
and we were wed. The thing was done.
After the ceremony, we took pictures with our parents (his by my side and mine by his),
our seven children and six grandchildren (one was still in Florida…boo!),
and our officiant.
With the short ceremony over, we moved over to celebrate with champagne/”kid wine” toasts and cupcakes.
My Dad surprised us with a touching speech about how he loved seeing me happier than I had ever been, and he welcomed his new son “officially”– although those two have one of the strongest bro-mances I have ever personally witnessed, and I think this welcoming occurred at the first time they met, or at least when Dad lended him his first tool.
Wrecker’s Mom followed suit welcoming me into their family officially,
and then my brother,
and then his youngest daughter.
She talked about how when her mom died all that everyone wanted was for her Dad to find happiness again. It wasn’t until I came along that they saw him smile. Of course, I became the tear-filled bride at such a touching moment.
It was a day of extreme highs filled with honest emotion, and the occasion was true perfection. We were so happy to be surrounded by the love and support of our family and touched that everyone could be there to share it with us.
There was one last step however before we were truly “official,” so we sat down to finish the formalities.
Then some more serious photos,
and some not-so-serious ones…
After the ceremony, I had made reservations for the special Valentine’s menu at the Lodge’s restaurant and reserved a King Suite for the night for our honeymoon.
Over dinner, we had several couples come up to congratulate us. They had been watching the ceremony from the balcony apparently, and many were there on their own anniversaries celebrating their own Valentine’s Day marriages so many years ago. One couple even bought us some chocolate-covered strawberries. (If you are reading this, we truly appreciated your gesture of generosity.)
For us, this love story has only just begun. We can only hope it will be as full of surprises as its beginning, and we hope that all of you find happiness like we’ve found.